The Evangelical Universalist Forum

Christians And Alcohol

Respecting biblical theology and the true nature of God, here is a discussion for your consideration this holiday season.

Christians And Alcohol

by Hermano

And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit. Ephesians 5:18.


The question of alcohol consumption has been problematic for believers from the beginning. The first recorded use of alcohol in the Bible, by Noah in Genesis 9, led to his shameful drunkenness. And of course Christians in Corinth were reprimanded by Paul for getting drunk at love feasts associated with the Lord’s Supper (1 Corinthians 11:21).

Given the Bible’s clear warning against drunkenness (i.e., drunkards will not inherit the Kingdom of God, Galatians 5:21), Christians today nevertheless pose the question: “Is it not permissible for believers to drink in moderation?” –with the difference being one of degree.

In this short paper we examine the nature of alcohol; using biblical context, we demonstrate that there are distinctions in “wines”; we also consider the high calling God has placed on kings, priests, and Christians.

We conclude that the question of the permissibility of drinking in moderation is not the right focus; rather one should ask: “Is God capable of contradicting himself about alcohol in the Scriptures?” And “Is alcohol something God actually desires for us, or not?”

Where Alcohol Comes From: The Process of Fermentation

:black_small_square: Fermentation is the putrefaction of plant matter. It involves the slow decomposition of organic substances induced by microorganisms such as yeast and bacteria.

:black_small_square: For example, in making alcoholic wine, yeast is allowed to feed on the sugar in grape juice and excrete alcohol and carbon dioxide.

:black_small_square: When the alcohol content reaches perhaps 15% concentration, the yeast colony is poisoned and dies.

:black_small_square: If fermentation is avoided (through boiling, filtration, chilling, et al), wine can remain sweet and alcohol-free.

Alcohol’s Notorious Impact on Health

:black_small_square: Alcohol in Drug Addiction: alcohol is classified as an addictive drug by the American Medical Association (AMA policy H-30.972).

:black_small_square: Alcohol and Pregnancy: “Drinking alcohol during pregnancy can cause a wide range of physical and mental birth defects… In fact, no level of alcohol use during pregnancy has been proven safe.” (1)

:black_small_square: Alcohol and the Liver: “Alcohol itself is toxic to the liver.”(2)

:black_small_square: Alcohol and the Brain: "Alcohol is a neurotoxin associated with significant morbidity and mortality.”(3)

:black_small_square: Alcohol and Cancer: “A beer a day may raise risk of several cancers.” “Just a Few Drinks a Week Boosts Breast Cancer Risk.” Et al.(4)

:black_small_square: Red Wine for Good Health: “The same antioxidants found in red wine can also be obtained from unfermented grape juice, and without the hazards related to alcohol.”(5)

:black_small_square: (We will forgo data on alcohol and crime, including e.g., traffic fatalities, murder, domestic abuse cases.)

Two Kinds of Wine in Scripture

Of course, the word “alcohol” does not appear in the Bible. In the original languages of the Scriptures, some generic words for wine can cover both the alcoholic and nonalcoholic varieties, so context is important in distinguishing which kind of wine is being referred to in a given passage.

Generic words for wine

In modern times, when we hear the word “wine,” we automatically think alcohol; that’s because nowadays we speak specifically of “juice” when referring to an unfermented fruit drink. However, in ancient times, the same generic words were used for both fermented (alcoholic) wine and unfermented (non-alcoholic, sweet) wine.

For example, the English word “must” is from the Latin “vīnum mustum,” and means “new wine; the unfermented juice pressed from the grape or other fruit.” (From

And the Greek word oinos, like the Hebrew yayin, was a generic term for the expressed juice of the grape, whether fermented or unfermented(6). Oinos is used at least 33 times in the Septuagint to translate tirosh, the Hebrew word for grape juice.(7)

Hence, context plays a central role in determining which type of “wine” is under discussion in a given Bible verse. This can be a very liberating truth for modern Christians, who may be perplexed about seeming contradictions in the Bible’s stance on alcohol.

The role of context in distinguishing which kind of wine

I. Fermented wine

Regarding the importance of context, consider these references to what is obviously fermented wine:

Proverbs 20:1a
Wine is a mocker and beer a brawler.

Proverbs 23
31 Do not gaze at wine when it is red,
when it sparkles [effervesces?] in the cup,
when it goes down smoothly!
32 In the end it bites like a snake
and poisons like a viper.

II. Unfermented wine

On the other hand, the following are unmistakably references to unfermented wine:

Isaiah 65:8
Thus says the LORD,
"As the new wine is found in the cluster,
And one says, ‘Do not destroy it, for there is benefit in it,’
So I will act on behalf of My servants
In order not to destroy all of them.

Isaiah 27:2-3
In that day,
"A vineyard of wine, sing of it!
"I, the LORD, am its keeper; I water it every moment so that no one will damage it, I guard it night and day.

Isaiah 16:10
Joy and gladness are taken away from the orchards; no one sings or shouts in the vineyards; no one treads out wine at the presses, for I have put an end to the shouting.

Jeremiah 40:12
And they harvested an abundance of wine and summer fruit.

Jeremiah 48:33
Joy and gladness are gone from the orchards and fields of Moab. I have stopped the flow of wine from the presses; no one treads them with shouts of joy. Although there are shouts, they are not shouts of joy.

Matthew 26:29, Mark 14:25, Luke 22:18
“I tell you, I will not **drink **of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it anew with you in my Father’s kingdom."

Christians and Alcohol

Let´s reconsider some other Scriptures relevant to Christians and alcohol.

Kings and Priests (kingdom of priests)

God’s people are identified in the Old Testament as “a kingdom of priests” (Exodus 19:6), and in the New Testament as “kings and priests” (Revelation 1:6; 5:10).

What implication does this have on Christians regarding the use of alcohol? Can any counsel or exhortation be inferred?


A. In Leviticus 10:8-11, regarding restrictions on priests serving before God, the Lord tells Aaron the high priest "Drink no wine or strong drink, you or your sons with you, when you go into the tent of meeting, lest you die. It shall be a statute forever throughout your generations. You are to distinguish between the holy and the common, and between the unclean and the clean….”

B. In Proverbs 31, king Lemuel is told by his mother that “… It is not for kings to drink wine, or for rulers to take strong drink, lest they drink and forget what has been decreed and pervert the rights of all the afflicted.”

Timothy and alcohol

That Timothy had been totally abstaining from all wine products can be concluded from Paul’s exhortation: "No longer drink only water, but use a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments” (1 Timothy 5:23).

What cannot be concluded is that Timothy subsequently began to use alcohol. (He may have originally been using only water precisely to avert supposition that a wine he drank might be of the fermented variety.)

Bishop/Elder/Overseer and alcohol

1 Timothy 3:2-3a (KJV)
“A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach; Not given to wine….”

Not given to wine. --The Greek is mee-paroinon: …Literally, not at, by, near, or with wine. This looks considerably like total abstinence…’Not given to wine’ is certainly a very liberal translation, and shows how the usages of the day unconsciously influenced the translators.”(6)

Christ and Alcohol

The symbolism at the Wedding at Cana

What was Jesus saying through this event? We read in the account of Jesus’ first miracle (John 2), that he employed six stone water jars on hand–jars normally used “for the Jewish rites of purification.” We Christians recognize that rituals with water cannot purify us. Only the blood of Jesus can truly cleanse from sin (see, e.g., Hebrews 13:12).

So was not “the blood of the grape” (Gen. 49:11, Deut. 32:14), offered to the invited guests from those purification jars, symbolic of our need to be purified in Jesus’ (soon to be shed) Blood? Was it not symbolic of the Blood necessary to qualify for entrance to The Wedding of the Lamb (Rev. 19:7)?

If this is so, then consider further: in Exodus 34:25 the Lord commanded, "You shall not offer the blood of my sacrifice with anything leavened, or let the sacrifice of the Feast of the Passover remain until the morning.”

Knowing this, would Jesus, our Passover Lamb, have created alcoholic (leavened) wine for this important symbolic wedding event?

(And what if a pregnant woman were in attendance at the wedding that day; would the omniscient God direct his Son to create and offer her alcohol, which could be harmful to her fetus?)

The symbolism at Passover and The Lord’s Supper

The Old Testament does not mention a cup for Passover–only the lamb, unleavened bread, and bitter herbs. Nevertheless the Israelites received a clear injunction against having yeast (which causes fermentation in both bread dough and fruit juice) anywhere in their houses during the celebration; the punishment for disobedience was to be “cut off from Israel” (Exodus 12:15). Hence, any wine taken during the celebration could not possibly be fermented.

Recall that during the Last Supper (a Passover meal), Jesus describes the beverage as “the fruit of the vine,” instead of referring to it with only a generic Greek word for “wine,” like oinos.

And when Paul examines the elements of the Lord’s Supper–the bread representing Christ’s body, and the cup, His blood (1 Cor. 11), he says “the cup,” instead of using a generic Greek word for “wine,” like oinos.

Remember that Acts 13:37 states “He [Jesus] whom God raised did not undergo decay.” Question: Would fermented wine best represent Christ’s pure, uncorrupted blood, or would unaltered juice from the grape?

At the Last Supper, “Christ, our Passover Lamb” (provided by God himself) knew he was about to be crucified. And Exodus 34:25 says "You shall not offer the blood of my sacrifice with anything leavened, or let the sacrifice of the Feast of the Passover remain until the morning.” Consider the possibility that if Christ had had leavened wine in his body from that meal, he could have been disqualified as our Passover sacrifice.

Christ, His Word, and His Nature

Now to the crux of this matter, which is (as is often the case) not related so much to the weight of the evidence, as to the attitude of the heart.

Let us be honest: the taste for alcohol is an acquired taste.

Let us be honest: one must allow that God can contradict himself in Scripture if one accepts as divine, on the one hand, the warnings “not to gaze at” (alcoholic) wine; that (alcoholic) wine “bites like a snake and poisons like a viper”; that it is a “mocker”; and yet on the other hand maintains that Christ—“The Word Made Flesh” (Jn. 1:14), “The Word of God” (Rev. 19:13), “The Author of Life” (Acts 3:15) —produced, consumed, and promoted something that could be harmful to us.


(1)o March of Dimes: “Drinking Alcohol During Pregnancy”“ See also
o National Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome: “Is it safe to drink a little alcohol while pregnant, such as a glass of wine?”
(2) NIH: “Alcohol and the Liver.”
(3) British Journal of Hospital Medicine, 1997; 57: 543-51: “Alcohol and the Brain.”
o McGill University: “A beer a day may raise risk of several cancers” … AZ20090823
o Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA)/ Harvard Medical School: “Just a Few Drinks a Week Boosts Breast Cancer Risk” … ncer-risk/
o World Cancer Research Fund: “A Large Glass of Wine or a Pint of Beer a Day Increases Liver and Bowel Cancer Risk by a Fifth” and also … le/162350/
o Cancer Research UK: “How alcohol causes cancer” … ses-cancer
o British Medical Journal: “A drink a day may be cancer-causing” … ays-t39881
(5) Professor Ira Goldberg, American Heart Association. … 080054.htm
(6) Bible Wines: Laws of Fermentation. Rev. William Patton, D.D.
Kessinger Publishing Company Whitefish, MT 2003.
As PDF at … Patton.pdf ,
or here, with several format options (EPUB, Kindle, PDF, et al):
(7) Wine In The Bible: A Biblical Study On The Use Of Alcoholic Beverages. Samuele Bacchiocchi, Ph. D., Andrews University. … iocchi.pdf

I always go to the Protestant site Got Questions. They do have a question entitled What does the Bible say about drinking alcohol / wine? Is it a sin for a Christian to drink alcohol / wine?.

Well, you can read the detailed answer for yourself. Let me just quote their summary. They have some related questions at the bottom:

Notice that:

They talk about the medical and health benefits in small quantities
While they point out the temptations to overindulgence and drunkenness, they only say, “it is often best for a Christian to abstain from drinking alcohol.”

And there is this gem, which I have somewhere around the house: … 0970032609

I am one who believes in “everything in moderation”. There are many verses in the bible that refer to wine as a gift from God which “gladdens the hearts of men.” Anything we do can become addictive and destructive if done in excess. Does this mean that we are to abstain from everything just because some can’t control themselves? This makes no sense to me. I believe we must be responsible and use our heads in all that we do.

The year I attended a Fundamentalist Bible Institute, concerning the wine that Jesus made from water, a student asked, “But what kind of wine was that?” The teacher replied, “There is only one kind of wine—the fermented kind.”

After Jesus changed the water into wine, the master of the feast said to the bridegroom, "“Everyone serves the good wine first, and when people are drunk (μεθυσθωσιν—passive voice), then the poor wine. But you have kept the good wine until now.”

Why do you suppose everyone normally serves the good wine first, and the poor wine after people are drunk? Doubtless because when they are drunk, they won’t know the difference. But of course, in this case the better wine was served last because Jesus made a superior wine, since the usual wine had run out.

I don’t think there is a shred of evidence that any unfermented product is called “wine” in the New Testament.

:laughing: I remember hearing Luther’s Table Talk tracts were discussions he and contemporaries had about Luther’s bible views over ‘Steins and Steins of beer’! I like it Dave!

qaz, I think Hermano hit it on the head when he said:

"Christ, His Word, and His Nature

Now to the crux of this matter, which is (as is often the case) not related so much to the weight of the evidence, as to the attitude of the heart.

Let us be honest: the taste for alcohol is an acquired taste.

Let us be honest: one must allow that God can contradict himself in Scripture if one accepts as divine, on the one hand, the warnings “not to gaze at” (alcoholic) wine; that (alcoholic) wine “bites like a snake and poisons like a viper”; that it is a “mocker”; and yet on the other hand maintains that Christ—“The Word Made Flesh” (Jn. 1:14), “The Word of God” (Rev. 19:13), “The Author of Life” (Acts 3:15) —produced, consumed, and promoted something that could be harmful to us."

Hmmm… The Messiah produced, consumed and promoted… Looks like a ‘slam dunk’ to me. Or wait a minute , some think he’s a ‘lame drunk’ :laughing: after all I think they called Christ a glutton and wine bibber!!!

The problem is his (Hermano’s) assertion that Jesus would promote something harmful to us :question:

Hermano, I would also offer the verses before your jumping off verse:

Eph 5:11 Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them;
Eph 5:12 for it is disgraceful even to speak of the things which are done by them in secret.
Eph 5:13 But all things become visible when they are exposed by the light, for everything that becomes visible is light.
Eph 5:14 For this reason it says, “Awake, sleeper, And arise from the dead, And Christ will shine on you.”
Eph 5:15 Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise,
Eph 5:16 making the most of your time, because the days are evil.
Eph 5:17 So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.

Then we come to your verse:
*Eph 5:18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit, *
Eph 5:19 speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord;
Eph 5:20 always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father;
Eph 5:21 and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ.

Our objective is love, not to point a finger and slam a bam!

It’s not a matter of opinion. I know it is not a sin to consume alcoholic beverages in moderation without getting drunk.

I think I have addressed the myth that there are two kinds of wine mentioned in the New Testament, fermented and non-fermented, by stating that there is no evidence that the word “wine” is used in the New Testament with reference to any non-fermented beverage.

Yes, I can address the other arguments for abstinence, but I don’t think this issue is important enough to take the time to do so. No one has been harmed by drinking in moderation, nor has such drinking harmed anyone else—with one exception. Sometimes people who live in poverty, drink, and the lesser quantity of available funds affects the well-being of their families.

However, if there is any specific argument for abstinence that you think is weighty, please state it, and I will attempt to address it.

Personally, I have occasionally drunk alcoholic beverages since I was in my twenties. I am now 77, and am aware of no way that I have been harmed as a result, nor any of my family.

Paidion, you say

I submit you will find at least a shred in the books by Patton and Bacchiocchi which I reference and link to.

maintenanceman, you say that

But what I said was

My point is that the Author of Life would never promote something that could be harmful to us.

It might be interesting to view alcohol, within the history of Christianity, at Christian views on alcohol. Let me quote from the subtopic heading current views:

Since the Christian world is currently divided on this topic… to argue from scripture for one particular viewpoint… seems to me dependent on whom has the most convincing logical arguments or emotional appeal…along with whom buys into the persuasions - Like any topic here (i.e. hell as ECT, annihilation, universal reconciliation, etc. - see Christian views on hell)

The booklet I referenced above - about drinking with Calvin and Luther - is illuminating. Luther mandated that his peasants drink a quart of beer a day (at least) and Calvin did not expect teetotalers among his flock.
I’m probably with Paidion on this,

Me too. As long as you label it “tonic” for “medicinal purposes only.” :exclamation: :laughing:

That is interesting about Luther and Calvin. I am a Lutheran, and I think many still adhere to this. :laughing:

I think, it is okay to drink, as long as it does not become a ‘consuming factor’ in one’s life, and as long as there is no danger of harm, both physical and psychological, for you or others you come into contact with, as in the case of drinking and driving, for example. We can make anything into a ‘god’, and alcohol certainly has been that, in many people’s lives, that I have known. I also think alcohol can be harder to control, than some think. We need to have a healthy outlook about its role in our lives, lest it becomes out of control, when life becomes more difficult than we expected or feel we can handle.

I, myself, have never drank, nor do I have any desire to. I come from a family in which my great-grandparents were first cousins. All but one of their children was moderate in their drinking habits, out of 6. The others were severe alcoholics, which increased some other psychological issues. The great majority of their grandchildren, which was my Mom’s generation, were also severe alcoholics. Many of my cousins drank past where was safe, and some also became severe alcoholics.

What I witnessed as a child caused me to decide never to drink, at a very young age. I have never regretted my decision. In light of my Christian background and training, I believe God led me to this and that it was, for me, a wise and Spirit-led decision.

I think we need to keep in mind that to look to ‘the bottle’ for solace, sometimes has us not depend on God the way we need to. I believe, God needs to be our first stop for all our support and trust, not alcohol, or anything else. People use all types of things for their ‘first stop’, rather than God. None of those things should be given His place in our lives. If we put God first in our lives, all other things will fit into place, as well. Sounds easy enough, but it is often not as easy as it seems. We need to be honest with ourselves and examine our lives, daily.

We all need to ‘walk with the Lord’, as did Noah.

My favorite Bible verse:

5Trust in the LORD with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding. 6In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight.… Proverbs 3: 5 - 6

My two cents.


Speculating in such a way as to support personal convictions is insufficient. Consider the passage itself:

3 When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.”
4 And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come.”
5 His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”
6 Now there were six stone water jars there for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons.
7 Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim.
8 And he said to them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the feast.” So they took it.
9 When the master of the feast tasted the water now become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom
10 and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and when people have drunk freely [the Greek says “get drunk”], then the poor wine. But you have kept the good wine until now.” (John 2 ESV)

The facts are these:

  1. Throughout the passage the Greek word “οινος” has been translated as “wine.” Is it reasonable to suppose that the apostle John used the word in the beginning to refer to the alcoholic drink that is normally called “wine” and then in verse 9, used the same word to denote grape juice?

  2. Please read carefully the words of the master of the feast to the bridegroom in verse 10. Would he have called normal alcoholic wine “the good wine” (which everyone serves first), and then, in the same sentence refer also to mere grape juice (if that’s what Jesus made) as “the good wine.” Would the master of the feast really consider grape juice to be a superior wine?

This was a reference to leavened bread. The Jews to this day celebrate the passover with unleavened bread. This is symbolic of the hurry, the speed with which the Hebrews had to depart from Egypt. There wasn’t time to make leavened bread (that would have taken extra time to rise).
However in celebrating the feast of the passover, Jewish people use wine and not grape juice.

Ironically, it is grape juice that is leavened. Yeast cells fall in it, and will eventually ferment it. The yeast remains there as long as it remains unfermented.

But wine is unleavened. After fermentation has taken place, the yeast cells fall to the bottom of the container as dregs, and the pure wine is removed from the top. It contains no yeast cells; it is unleavened.

Let me address this - positively. I did mention 2 articles that are worth looking at:

What does the Bible say about drinking alcohol / wine? Is it a sin for a Christian to drink alcohol / wine?.
Christian views on alcohol.

In fact, the second article says this:

So we see in the second article, that some Protestant branches advocate moderation. But the 3 largest branches - Anglicanism, Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy - follow the historical position.

The first article is good, since the Got questions Protestant site **can’t **give a definitive NO - just an advisement against temptation.

The second one gives us the history of alcohol in Christianity. But some brief things here.

Martin Luther is from Germany. They are a beer drinking culture. John Calvin came from France. They are a wine drinking culture. The same goes for the Jewish culture. Have you ever been to a Jewish celebration that didn’t serve wine?
Obviously, a Christian should refrain from anything that leads to addiction. But it’s an individual call, that’s effected by a person’s genetic disposition, cultural upbringing, environment, etc. But a person can get addicted to prescription drugs - for example.
Folks in the bible use wine in different ways. In a Jewish wedding - you serve wine. St. Paul took a bit of wine for stomach trouble. Noah celebrated his ark voyage by getting drunk. In these 3 examples, only Noah made the wrong choice.
And what about the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox monasteries that make beer or wine? One of the strongest drinks I’ve ever had, was a fermented herbal elixir, from the Eastern Orthodox Mount Athos in Greece. My Greek Orthodox friend served it to me, at one of her holidays dinners. It would put Granny’s tonic in the video to shame.

And let’s look at an article from Medical Daily entitled 7 Health Benefits Of Drinking Alcohol:

It Can Lower Your Risk Of Cardiovascular Disease
It Can Lengthen Your Life
It Can Improve Your Libido
It Helps Prevent Against the Common Cold
It Can Decrease Chances Of Developing Dementia
It Can Reduce The Risk Of Gallstones
Lowers The Chance Of Diabetes

So as an Anglo-Catholic, who adopted some elements of Eastern Orthodox theology, I follow the historical position. But also side with the Protestant bodies that advocate moderation.

A good wrap-up, RLK.

Paidion, as to your assertion that the prohibition against leaven for the Passover was only for leaven in the bread, and not for leaven in the wine, I share these additions:

~On the first day you shall remove leaven from your houses. (Ex. 12:15)
~For seven days no leaven shall be found in your houses, since whoever eats what is leavened, that same person shall be cut off from the congregation of Israel, (Ex. 12:19)
~And no leavened bread shall be seen among you, nor shall leaven be seen among you in all your quarters. (Ex. 13:7)

Also, regarding the Wedding at Cana, Paidion writes


Sheesh, I hate to do it, but I guess I’ll have to pick a research reference (Bacchiocchi) I pointed to, and quote at length for you. (Just to remind you that there are research references to consider.) I strongly encourage readers to go through the free William Patton book that I also reference and link to above. I think you will find that short book addresses some, if not all, of your doubts.

The following excerpt is from Professor Bacchiocchi’s book, and although I don’t hold with his Seventh Day Adventist beliefs, l like his research on wine in the Bible. (Note especially his discussion of the expression “well drunk” (John 2:10) used by the banquet master:

Here are a couple of quotes from two of C. S. Lewis’s letters:

I stand with Lewis.

But Hermano, you have not addressed (nor was it addressed in the article you quoted) the unlikelihood that John, in the same sentence, would use “oinos” for fermented wine, and also for unfermented grape juice.

Also, I hinted that the words translated as “have well drunk” should be translated “get drunk”. The reason is that the former is an active voice, but the Greek is in the passive voice, and should therefore be translate as “get drunk.”

Also you have not addressed the oddity of “the good wine” to which the master of the feast said everyone serves first being clearly alcoholic, since its consumption resulted in people getting drunk, and “the good wine” to which he referred in the same sentence that the bridegroom had serves after the first was consumed, was non-alcoholic. Do you really think the master of the feast would call mere grape juice “the good wine”?

I’ve only read about half of this, but I promise I’ll get back to it later. For now, I have a couple of comments which I hope won’t be too repetitive.

First, there is a time to drink and a time to abstain. There is a time to have marital relations and a time to abstain.There is a time to mourn the dead and a time to abstain. All these things and more apply to the priestly duties in the temple. No one today would (I think) restrict the marital relations of believers prior to engaging in priestly behavior, or suggest that the “uncleanness” brought about by engaging in such relations should make us delay in ministering love to some lost soul and bringing him into the presence of the Father, whether in prayer or in conversation, etc. Likewise attendance at funerals and being in the presence of a dead body or even touching it. The priestly restrictions are for the OT priests.They make no sense for a full-time lifestyle priesthood of believers.

Nevertheless, there is still a time to abstain from alcohol, from shellfish or pork, from meat sacrificed to idols, or from anything that might give offence or cause others to stumble. I would never drink wine in the presence of a vulnerable recovering alcoholic. In all probability I also would not drink wine in your presence, Hermano, since I think it would trouble you. Since you feel that drinking wine in any amount is sin, you absolutely should abstain. To do otherwise would be sin to you. I don’t judge you for that. Likewise, it’s best we don’t judge those who do choose to drink in moderation, as they drink in full understanding within themselves that it is NOT sin. They aren’t hurting others in most cases, and if they ARE, then in nearly all cases it’s a matter of selfishness rather than a matter of specifically drinking wine.

I want to talk about fermentation. Bread is fermented. Pickles are fermented. Sour cream is fermented. Many, many, many other foods are also fermented. Fermentation is not a process of putrefaction, but of preservation. Before canning and freezing were invented, we had very few options for preservation of foods. For vegetables, drying or pickling (which requires salt). Pickling crowds out toxic bacteria and produces an environment in which only bacteria which happen to be friendly to our digestive systems can survive. Pickles are extremely good for the digestive system because of the bacteria that produce and live in them. New “wine” is only non-alcoholic for a very short window of time. Boiling will only extend this time period marginally. Our modern processes of preservation of juices have been viable for only a VERY short period of time relative to history. Obviously you cannot dry juices very easily. You can’t prevent the sugars from attracting yeasts and bacteria, even if the juice has been boiled. Very soon it will either spoil or turn to vinegar or to wine. Ancient peoples didn’t have all that much control over the process except to introduce a culture of lees (the stuff at the bottom of the fermenting wine or vinegar) and hope to avert spoilage. Wine was preferred usually, and often achieved if that was the aim, but sometimes they got vinegar. Even the vinegar would not be bereft of alcohol–it would have a trace to a lot of alcohol. It just depends on the conditions of the fermentation environment. Fermentation was not seen as putrefaction, but as the only method of avoiding putrefaction.

Wine in the bible may not have been as strong as modern wine (especially wine made with champagne yeasts), but it was wine, unless it was vinegar. It wasn’t Welch’s Grape Juice. It was intoxicating. Few things in life are black and white. Most are a continuum. How much of a “buzz” is too much? That’s a matter we need to be diligent and judge within ourselves. For one person, it might be the point at which she begins to act foolishly. For another, it may be the quantity of alcohol at which he can begin to barely feel the effects. If we judge ourselves we will not be judged, but that judgment needs to be honest and inspired by the Holy Spirit. If it is self-serving, it will become sin. Nothing is “by the book” in this walk. Everything must be “by the Spirit.”